A few quick tips to keep your azaleas and rhododendrons happy and healthy going into fall:
Feed now for overall plant health. The fertilizer you put down now won’t influence next year’s bloom, but will promote healthy roots and leaf retention. Use an organic or slow release granular rhododendron fertilizer for long lasting nutrition.
Apply an inch or two of mulch, to protect from dehydration, freezing, and to reduce weed problems. Gardner and Bloome Acid Planting Mix, in addition to its main use for planting rhododendrons and blueberries, makes a great mulch.
BE AWARE OF AND TREAT ANY INSECT PROBLEMS
Azalea Lace Bugs are very active right now, causing “sandblasting” or speckling of the foliage. They can be treated with neem insecticides sprayed thoroughly on the underside of the leaves, but will require more than one application, and will likely require more follow-up treatment next spring.
Check leaves for notching from adult root weevil feeding – the leaf damage is unsightly, but the real problem is the larval feeding through the winter. Control root weevil grubs with granular insecticides such as Bonide Insect and Grub Control, or apply beneficial nematodes for an organic treatment.